Peter Schjeldahl put together a very good synopsis of Yves Klein’s life and work in his late-June column on the Hirshhorn in Washington, DC. We didn’t link to it then for some reason. So let’s rectify the situation with this quote that follows Schjeldahl’s observation that the Hirshhorn show exhibits a drawing where Klein wrote the word ‘humility’ twenty times:
It’s not easy now to associate humility with the perpetrator of such audacities as monochrome paintings in a color he patented as International Klein Blue (it is ordinary ultramarine pigment, with a polymer binder to preserve its chromatic intensity and powdery texture), big pictures made by I.K.B.-smeared naked women pressing or rolling their bodies against canvases, and a heavily promoted Paris gallery show that consisted of exactly nothing (“The Void,” 1958). There was also the rigged photograph of himself apparently leaping from the second story of a building, with an expression of rapt confidence in continued flight (“Leap Into the Void,” 1960); a chamber-orchestra “symphony” that held a single note for twenty minutes, followed by twenty minutes of silence; paintings made with the aid of torches, or by exposing canvases to wind and rain; fountains combining water and fire; and assorted architectural ideas, including one for a city under a weather-deflecting roof of blowing air. Then, there were the Immaterials. For these works, a collector paid Klein a set price and was given a receipt for the sum. Klein then spent the money on gold leaf, which he strewed over water—most often, the Seine. At that point, the collector burned the receipt, consigning the work to mere memory.
True Blue (The New Yorker)